Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Raych Jackson – “Jonah Was Trapped Before He Met the Fish”

Raych Jackson – “Jonah Was Trapped Before He Met the Fish”


Jonah was Trapped Before he Met the Fish. Who knew, after the first raindrop,
the storm was Jonah’s fault? I would have. Guilt has a smell that lingers worse than the meat
fishermen sift through daily. Anyone with a long shadow
dragging through the ground won’t be welcomed aboard, especially someone
whose only visible luggage is the slump in their shoulders. I’d recognize that dip anywhere. The storm bubbled over, and Jonah dripped to the bottom
of the boat, silent and low, praying everything above him
would just settle. I time how long
I can hold my breath underwater for 13 straight days. Every evening I took
an extra-large bottle of wine, filled the bathtub and locked the door. Maybe tonight will be
the night they find me. Jonah hid like an untrained dog who wet the rug
when his owner came home too late. My roommate comes home early, knocks to ask if I’m okay. I let my words leak under the door, and they form a puddle of false relief. Was the crew ready
to throw Jonah overboard after the first tear? Or did he have to prove
how ready he was to die? Is killing myself a sin
if I really want to die? Jonah, a man dull enough
to think God can’t see him at all times. He sees when I dip my head back
and let the water reach my ears and keep going, keep sinking. A prophet disappearing
gets God’s attention. A depressed 20-something does not. God would never follow me
across the ocean or my bathroom to change my mind. I’m aware I will never be loved as much. He only comes to sit
on the edge of the tub to hold the timer. My Lord, see how long
I can hold my breath? Once I broke my record, opened my eyes under the sea, felt my feet push back
and watched me float up on my own, my nose and mouth forced above the surface
to remember what air was. God held Jonah underwater
until he was his prophet again. God saves my life
while keeping his hands dry. I accomplish nothing.
My body doesn’t let me. My God doesn’t let me. God might let me drown one day
if I practice hiding better– a bigger tub and whiskey this time, an empty house and a nap below. Is it even my body
if I’m made in his image? Is it even a bath if God wants a baptism? (applause) This is the last one.
Thanks, guys! I was really nervous.

17 comments on “Raych Jackson – “Jonah Was Trapped Before He Met the Fish”

  1. Nice poetry. It's words like this that encourage me to keep on doing poetry on my channel, knowing I can only get better

  2. I stood in front of the storm clouds and offered myself so many times, before I was ever pregnant and had children I'd thrown myself down the stairs just to break the frustration and reawaken my desire or instinct to be alive again. They can hang draw and quarter me and burn my effigy for centuries – I'll take Trump's place, claim the crown, and declare myself the most high god honouring the words of Wesley if someone re-builds the temple. I once prayed to God, not to test them/him/she/whatever, if God hates icons like idols like doorstep JWs and some of my Christian friends said, then in that storm he could explode the one I would see out my window and wonder about. Three seconds after I finished the prayer, a pink electric zig-zag branched across the sky to touch the statue's feet. Charge safely leaving down the conductor. I was scared. And comforted. And left wondering how crazy I am. I thought God said I do not smite. That still leaves me wondering what to do with my guilt. God will be with me to the far side of the sea and deep in any death I bury myself in. I felt this as a new mum. But what then? And how to separate out the grave-dirt from the good soil!? Draw lines in the firmament. Quantum Nineveh. Life as a Trolley Puzzle. Trains, planes, ships, and automobiles make the modern world. And then the people on them. When even good shade from a living plant can be hell. As can getting light from a rock made of dead ones. Well!? The answer can't be 'poor me' – or throwing my hands up in the air in either dismissal or thoughts and prayers. But there's a strange non-dichotomy between deliberate choice and not being able to help it. Too much gall, too much honey will make you sick; it isn't funny. To find the narrow gate people often dive quite wide to the left or right, so they know which side they're on. You could easily get lost or be uncertain if you try to make it straight. But dips and peaks get in the way. So many kinds of ratings, a false effigy. I want to make level paths, but I'm so hung up on the word 'lame' because tone, social mores and competence do matter – and I have been given many equivalent names – that I never get to the healing. Who should I be angry with!? The answer can't altogether be 'poor me' – or throwing my hands up in the air in either dismissal or thoughts and prayers. Mental health or disability (or any use of those terms, perhaps racially) is not an argument for inequality, but we can't and shouldn't erase difficulty or identity. We're all different, all have problems. Some of us more than others. But for all of us, living creates a debt of breath, and wet. A demand for oxygen, water, soil, blood, plant: recycled spirit. And there is no such thing as throwing people away: we all make a ripple. A fertile plumb and a wake, a current. Chaos is a lie, not as void as it looks; usually does have patterns, and elements. I have no answers, only questions: where does the path go? What is there beyond us?

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